On this day, 12 September 1981: Buster
On this day, 12 September 1981 … Cor, look at that Dracula lolly! They don’t make them like that any more. Or do they? I just looked it up and and it looks as though the Dracula has made a comeback, but no, they don’t make them like that – just as another oblong lolly. We need the real thing. I’d buy it, for sure.
Chillingly delicious, but this Buster’s got a bigger bite than the promotional front cover. As children of the 70s and 80s we were blessed, were really were. This is a kids’ comic, of course, and a fairly run-of-the-mill issue, but as adults there’s still so much to enjoy some thirty-five years later. The astonishing talent of the artists, for a start. Reg Parlett, Mike Lacey, Martin Baxendale, Jack Edward Oliver, John Geering, Ian Knox, Ken Reid, Trevor Metcalfe, Rob Lee, Jim Crocker, Brian Walker, Norman Mansbridge, Dick Millington … Mike Western on The Leopard from Lime Street, and a gorgeous Green Cross Code ad from the wonderful Ron Smith … pure genius, every one of them. That they managed to produce such sterling quality of work week after week – some of them on three or four different strips across the IPC range – leaves me awestruck.
And then there’s the humour: so cheeky and naughty and dark and violent and slapstick. Formulaic, yes, maybe, but within the standard structure that each self-contained, page-length storyline follows, the writers and artists always appear to have had so much fun and taken so much pleasure in their creations. Look at Buster tripping over and giving his rival a mush full of melon at the fruit and veg competition; look at Ivor Lott stamping his smarmy visage across every corner of Tony Broke’s world, like some narcissistic leader of state; look at Gums: Kerboom!; look at the hideous nightmare that is Faceache; look at the wibbly-wobbly Heath Robinson ingenuity of Clever Dick; look at the warped parental psychodrama that is Mummy’s Boy. The parents and moral guardians of our childhood spent a lot of time fussing about Action and Doctor Who and Grange Hill and all that ghastly punk rock business, but one can’t help thinking that a lot more of the really good stuff getting through under the radar within the pages of Buster, Whoopee! and the gang.